There are many contributing factors that apply to ranking on search engines. Another way to signal to Google to influence ranking is through implementing alt text on the back-end of images.
At its most basic form, alt text is a grouping of descriptive words or phrases that describe what is occurring within an image. Alternative text allows Google to place images in search results as well as aid in assisting visually impaired users.
How Can Alt Text Be Used and Added To Your Images?
It varies depending on your CMS, but typically, images will have a rich text module in which you can edit and optimize the images on your site. If it is not easily accessible, alt text can be added within the HTML.
To Add Alt-Text to HTML Source Code Directly In Chrome:
- Load a page from your local file system where the image resides and open Developer Tools from the “Tools” menu in the Chrome ribbon.
- In Chrome, press Command+Shift+O or Ctrl+Shift+O to quickly locate the “img src” followed by “alt=”
- Within these markers, you can Input correct formatting, which can be seen in the examples below.
- Hit Ctrl+S/Command+S in order to save your changes to the code.
- These new changes can be saved to the original file by right-clicking the editor and selecting Save.
- In the event that the code is inputted incorrectly, right-click on the editor and select Local modifications to revert back to your prior code.
<img src="apparel.png" alt="cheerful young women golfers in pink t-shirts holding golf clubs on a golf course">
Additional Tips For Adding Alt Text
- Implement keyword strategy into your alt text
- With that said, do not keyword stuff and complicate an alt tag (ex. best pink t-shirts pink golf polos t-shirts for women golfers)
- Think “what’s happening in this image” and make it specific as possible
- If you are including alt text for a CTA button - include what the button specifically saying (shop now, explore now, etc.)
Questions to Ask Yourself When Adding Alt Text
The most optimal alt text is sufficiently descriptive and does not “keyword stuff.” Natural-sounding alt-text can be accomplished by reading it out loud and asking yourself:
- Does it accurately describe what is happening in the image?
- Does it accurately tie in with your keywords?
- Does it sound natural when read aloud?
If the answer is yes to these three questions, you are heading in the right direction.
Simple alt text: <img src="golfer.jpg" alt="male golfer">
Good alt text: <img src="golfer.jpg" alt="male golfer swinging golf club">
Best alt text: <img src="golfer.jpg" alt="male golfer in blue pants swinging golf iron">
Why is Alt Text Important?
Alt Text is an SEO practice that can lead to big results. As per recent updates, the first page of Google is evolving and is leaving more space for image carousels, videos, and PAA Boxes, which means that the real estate on page one is getting more competitive. By going the extra mile to include alt text, you can leverage ranking within the SERPS. This all comes down to accessibility. If your images aren’t accessible by Google, then you may be losing out on sessions, consumer targeting from lack of accurate image descriptions, enhanced click-through rates, therefore, decreasing the overall user experience.
How To Avoid Index Confusion
While technology is advancing in search every day, there are still crawlers that may overlook or misread your image. By providing alt text, you can avoid the issue and give crawlers accurate information for future search queries.
Example: Google might see the following image and be able to decipher that it's a picture of golf balls, but might gloss over the fact that they are unique golf balls depicting other sports.
If you're trying to rank for "novelty golf balls," you'll need to point out the difference to the search engine in order to avoid confusion.
It's best practice to create alt text that includes the phrase or keyword you are targeting, while also describing the image.
What Does Good Alt Text Look Like?
Let's take a look at some more examples below:
Simple alt text: <img src="golf bag.jpg" alt="golf bag">
Good alt text: <img src="golf bag.jpg" alt="black and white golf bag">
Best alt text: <img src="golf bag.jpg" alt="black and white golf bag on golf green during a sunny day">
Simple alt text: <img src="apparel.png" alt="golf glove">
This alt text is only "okay" because it's not very descriptive. Yes, this is an image of a golf glove. But, there's more to be said about this image.
Best alt text: <img src="apparel.png" alt="golfer placing golf ball on tee wearing a black and white golf glove">
This alt text is a better alternative because it is far more descriptive of what's happening within the image.
<img src="apparel.png" alt="">
<img src="apparel.png" alt="best golfer golf glove best golf glove best golf ball">
These are not best practice.
The first line of code actually doesn't contain any alt text at all since the quotes are empty, while the second example demonstrates keyword stuffing, which sounds unnatural.
Okay alt text: <img src="golf club.png" alt="driver">
Better alt text: <img src="golf club.png" alt="golf driver">
Best alt text: <img src="golf club.png" alt="fairway wood golf club with white background">
SEO Is A Long Term Strategy
Implementing these practices may increase the potential for improving your keyword rankings, and could impact your page rank (how importance Google views your page). Going the extra mile to ensure that SEO best practices have been followed for the site’s images could lead to additional brand exposure in the everchanging SERP landscape, and put you ahead of your competitors.
Learn more about other SEO best practices and subscribe to our newsletter below!